ruth johnson

League of Women Voters

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is pushing for a citizenship verification box on the application for the November ballot. She says there could be an estimated 4,000 non-citizens registered to vote in Michigan. 

A lawsuit has been brought to block the question from the ballot and some county clerks are refusing to put the citizenship question to voters.

Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson.
MI SOS

We are now 47 days away from the November general election.

Here in Michigan, the political races have some competition in the headlines with "the box": the box that you're supposed to tick off to declare that, yes, you are an American citizen.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson released a statement claiming nearly 4,000 registered voters in Michigan are not U.S. citizens.
michigan.gov

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson released a statement claiming as many as 4,000 registered voters in Michigan are not U.S. citizens. David Eggert of Mlive has the story:

cncphotos / flickr

This week Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley and Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry talked about the lawsuit filed against Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. The lawsuit challenges Johnson’s instruction that voters who show up on Election Day should be asked whether they are US citizens. Shockley and Lessenberry also talked about Governor Rick Snyder's trade mission to China.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Secretary of State being sued over citizenship question

"A coalition of unions, voters, county clerks and civil rights groups is suing Secretary of State Ruth Johnson in federal court. The lawsuit challenges Johnson’s instruction that voters who show up on Election Day should be asked whether they are US citizens. But no one can legally be denied a ballot for refusing to check the box. The lawsuit was filed yesterday in US District Court in Detroit. Johnson’s office would not comment specifically on the lawsuit. But she has said the question is simply meant to remind people that only U-S citizens can vote in elections," Rick Pluta reports.

Medicaid tax falls $130-million short of projections

"The state could lose up to $260-million in federal funding for Medicaid this year. That's because of lower-than-expected revenues from Michigan's new one-percent tax on health insurance claims, which started in January. The tax will bring in $130-million less than originally projected for the current fiscal year. That means Michigan will have less money to qualify for federal matching dollars," Jake Neher reports.

CAW extends contracts with GM and Chrysler

The AP reports the Canadian Auto workers union says it has agreed to extend its current contracts with General Motors and Chrysler. Negotiations on new deals continue,

The union had set a midnight strike deadline. But President Ken Lewenza said talks would go past the deadline if there was progress. Earlier Monday the C-A-W reached a 4 -year deal with Ford that freezes pay and cuts wages for new hires. The union wants the deal to be the template for contracts with G-M and Chrysler. A CAW spokeswoman wouldn't say how long the contracts will be extended.

Voting booth
suttonhoo.blogspot.com

Update 4:39 p.m.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is being sued for ordering a citizenship question onto forms handed to voters at their local precincts. It asks people to check a box affirming their U.S. citizenship. But no one can legally be denied a ballot for refusing to check the box.
    
Jocelyn Benson directs the Michigan Center for Election Law, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. She said Secretary of State Johnson is acting outside the realm of her authority.

"And it's not going to prevent non-citizens from voting, but it is something that will create and has created some confusion in our elections process," said Benson.

The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Johnson's office would not comment specifically on the lawsuit. But she has said the question is simply meant to remind people that only U.S. citizens can vote in elections.

3:06 p.m.

Some county clerks are suing the state over boxes on voter forms that ask people whether they are citizens.

The lawsuit will say that Secretary of State Ruth Johnson does not have the authority on her own to put the boxes on election forms. A voter cannot be denied a ballot for refusing to check the box.

Earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder vetoed a bill that would have required voter forms to include a citizenship question.

(we'll update this post - check back)

Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson.
MI SOS

The Michigan Election Coalition has asked Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to remove the “citizenship checkbox” from ballot applications statewide.

But so far, Johnson says she has no intention of doing that.

The question—asking voters to affirm their US citizenship before voting—confused and outraged some voters in the August primary.

Some Michigan voters were wrongly turned away from the polls last Tuesday after refusing to affirm their US citizenship.

But some other voters—and an elections watchdog group—say they also encountered problems with misguided enforcement of the state’s voter ID law.

Ruth Johnson for Secretary of State

The federal government is suing the state of Michigan over the failure of some local governments to get absentee ballots delivered in a timely way to members of the armed forces, reports the Associated Press.

The U.S. Justice Department asked a Grand Rapids federal judge today to order some local governments to count absentee ballots received after the Aug. 7 primary election.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Secretary of State will soon ask again for access to immigration records.

The intent is to find non-American citizens who may have “inadvertently” registered to vote in Michigan.

The other day, I told my significant other she should plan to be out of town on election day. “Was it something I said?" she asked. Well, no. It’s the way election law works in Michigan. We may all face a ballot that is as long as the proverbial bed sheet.

Not only are there a vast number of candidates and races, we could be asked to decide on four, eight, possibly 11 different complicated ballot proposals. Do you know what would happen if every voter stayed in the booth till she or he managed to figure all this out? We’d all still be in line in four years.

Naturally, nobody does that. So people either skip the proposals or take uninformed guesses. In the case of judicial candidates, too many of us go for familiar or judicial-sounding names, which is why there are a lot of judges named Kelly.

We also, oddly enough, elect trustees of our three biggest universities, and what’s even more bizarre, elect them on a partisan basis. Since almost nobody has ever heard of any of these folks, the winners tend to be of the party that wins the top of the ticket.

Intrigue. Deception. Conspiracy... Yes, it certainly feels like politics in Michigan is becoming a little more wrought with fraud-filled stories. In this week's It's Just Politics, we ask: are dirty politics the new normal in Michigan?

Zoe Clark: Allegations of fraud. That’s the big political story this week.

Rick Pluta: Petition fraud – it’s the new hanging chad.

ZC: Can we call this the “Hanging Thad” scandal?

RP: You are referring, of course, to Thad McCotter.

ZC: The Republican congressman from Livonia, failed presidential candidate and guitar hero is not disputing that he does not have enough petition signatures to qualify for the primary ballot.

RP: He did own up. He released a statement, accepting “full responsibility” – his words -- for the screw-up...  And then he blamed someone else, that he had trusted the wrong people. 

ZC: That’s the way the pros do it! But it’s why he doesn’t have the signatures that’s so….. weird.

usesr muffet / Flickr

The state Senate has approved some prospective changes in Michigan voting laws.

The measures would require training for people who register voters, and make people who pick up absentee ballots show a photo ID or sign an affidavit affirming their identity.

Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson called for some new election rules to discourage vote fraud.

“Michigan has a good election system, a very good election system, but we want to improve that even more,” said Ruth Johnson’s spokesman Fred Woodhams.

The measures have raised concerns with voter-rights advocates.

They came so close and I was really hopeful for a while. But in the end, they just weren’t good enough.

I hope you were disappointed too. Wait a minute -- did you think I was talking about the Detroit Tigers?

I don’t know whatever gave you that idea. What I‘m talking about are the campaign finance reforms unveiled yesterday by Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

I have been complaining for a long time about our campaign finance laws. It’s bad enough that it often costs several times an official’s salary to run for office.

Voting Booths
Flickr

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Michigan should allow anyone to vote by absentee ballot without having to give a reason why they cannot make it to a polling place on Election Day.

It’s one of several election proposals she outlined today.

They also include cleaning voter rolls of dead people, those who have moved, and non-citizens. 

Johnson said people should be allowed to cast absentee ballots without giving a reason why they cannot show up at a polling place on Election Day.

She said people who vote absentee would face the same identity requirements as people who cast ballots on Election Day.

"We need the same level of security in our elections whether it's absentee or it's people who come to vote at the polls. Michigan is a state where you must show an ID, a photo ID, or sign an affidavit of identity. We would require the same standard for the no-reason absentee," said Johnson.

Chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party Mark Brewer says the Republican’s election plans provide less ballot access than what’s being done in other states.

 "Many other states, including those run by Republicans, on a bipartisan basis are adopting reforms like early voting. They’re letting people register to vote on Election Day. All these are designed to make and have made it much easier for people to vote," said Brewer.

Brewer also said voting by non-citizens is not a big problem because they would risk deportation.

He said the effort to stop non-citizens from voting plays to racial fears.

Johnson does not favor early voting or Election Day voter registration as methods to spur more voter participation.

She has called for a federal law to give her office access to immigration and Social Security records that would help clear non-citizens off the state’s voter list.

She said going forward the state will also require people to promise they are U.S. citizens before they can vote.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says she is calling for tougher campaign finance laws.

The Republican says Wednesday her plan would create felony charges for the worst violators of Michigan's campaign finance regulations. Felony penalties and harsher fines could be charged in
some circumstances for failing to file regular reports of fundraising and spending activity.

Johnson said her proposals also seek filing requirements to try and prevent clandestine efforts such as a "Tea Party" that unsuccessfully sought to put candidates on the 2010 ballot in Michigan. The effort was widely considered to be a fake and didn't have support from tea party activists.

Republican state lawmakers say they are introducing bills aimed at achieving some of Johnson's goals.

The Michigan Democratic Party said Johnson's proposals would be ineffective.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There’s a new push underway to get more Michiganders to sign up as future organ donors.  

Michigan ranks 44th in the percentage of adults who are registered organ donors.   

Richard Pietroski says that’s not good enough.  He’s the chief executive officer of Gift of Life Michigan.   Pietroski says the 3 thousand critically ill Michiganders waiting for an organ or tissue transplant have to wait longer than they should.  

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan's secretary of state is seeking $976,000 from imprisoned ex-Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick for using re-election campaign funds to pay legal fees associated with a criminal case that saw him jailed in 2008.

A spokesman for Ruth Johnson says a civil complaint has been filed with her department. An administrative hearing is expected.

Kilpatrick was jailed after pleading guilty to misconduct and no contest to assault. The charges stemmed from a text-messaging sex scandal involving a former top aide.

The Bureau of Elections writes in the complaint that the charges arose from personal misconduct and that campaign funds shouldn't have been used for legal fees.

The Associated Press left messages Monday afternoon seeking comment from Kilpatrick lawyer James Thomas.

rick4mi.com

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson delivered what she says was the first-ever "State of the Secretary of State" speech in Lansing.

It's a speech Johnson says she plans to deliver the speech every year she is in office, "because I think there’s so much information and so many good things that are happening and I want people to know where we’re at, and where we’re going," said Johnson, "so you can judge – are we doing a good job or not?"

In the speech, Johnson said she is cutting costs in the Department of State.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson released a statement claiming nearly 4,000 registered voters in Michigan are not U.S. citizens.
michigan.gov

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has proposed changes to the laws governing how new political parties form in the state.
 
Johnson wants to prevent a repeat of last year’s confusion over an “imposter” tea party group that allegedly sought to siphon votes from Republicans in the 2010 elections.
 
Johnson says she expects legislation to be introduced in a few weeks that would require new parties to file a campaign finance statement, and give public notice for political conventions:

"We need to make sure the people and the political parties we see on the ballot really are who they say they are. And efforts to deceive voters, they really do rob every legitimate voter, and put our liberties and our freedoms at risk."

Last year a group calling itself the Tea Party said it planned to nominate candidates at a convention. Two former officials with the Oakland County Democratic Party are accused of putting candidates forward with forged documents.

Photograph Courtesy of migop.org

Republican candidate for Governor Rick Snyder will campaign today at an Oakland County rally.  Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are expected to attend.  The Oakland Country Press reports other statewide Republican candidates including Attorney General candidate Bill Schuette, Secretary of State Candidate Ruth Johnson and Lt.

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